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A dreadful 9-minute stretch killed Missouri against Illinois despite Wes Clark's heroics

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

MUtigers.com: Second Half Flurry Not Enough for @MizzouHoops in Exciting Braggin' Rights Finish

The Trib: Illinois holds onto Braggin' Rights as Missouri rally comes up short

The Trib: Clark delivers season-best game in losing effort for MU

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's rally falls short in Braggin' Rights downer

***

Your Trifecta: Clark-Gant-Woods

Your Season Totals: Puryear 13, Phillips 13, VanLeer 7, Walton 6, Wright 6, Gant 8, Isabell 5, Clark 5, Woods 3. Freshmen 39, sophomores 19, juniors 8, seniors 0.

Pretty sure this was the first game without a freshman in the Trifecta. That's ... good? Bad? Not sure.

Illinois 68, Missouri 63

Mizzou
Illinois
Pace (No. of Possessions) 66.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.94 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.11 1.19
2-PT FG% 48.7% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 31.0%
FT% 53.8% 68.4%
True Shooting % 50.2% 52.0%
FTA/FGA 22.8% 33.3%
Mizzou Illinois
Assists 9 9
Steals 4 6
Turnovers 15 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.87 2.14
Mizzou Illinois
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.3 12.6
Offensive Rebounds 10 6
Difference -2.3 -6.6
  • It's funny: Mizzou had what was easily its best rebounding game of the season, outdoing Illinois by about 4.3 expected rebounds. But I think I can remember all six of the offensive rebounds the Illini got. They all seemed to come at key times, especially a) Malcolm Hill's rebound of a missed free throw with 5:44 left, which resulted in a Hill 3-pointer (and an 8-point UI lead) 30 seconds later, and b) Michael Finke's board, again of a missed FT, with 28 seconds left. That one got him fouled and allowed him to move Illinois' lead from five to seven. Timeliness distracts us from full-game trends. Those two rebounds cost Mizzou five points in a five-point loss.

  • Still ... rebounding was good, and shooting was nearly dead even. Mizzou lost this game because of dreadful ball-handling. But again, full-game stats don't tell the story. In the first eight and last 23 minutes of the game, Mizzou committed just six turnovers. And from 12:01 to 3:19 left in the first half, the Tigers committed nine. Illinois went on a 24-8 run almost entirely built off of Missouri's sudden inability to hold onto the basketball.

  • When Sam talked to Brad Loos last week, Loos mentioned how one of the toughest things for young players is when things start going poorly, and they instinctively try to take over the game. It worked in high school because they were better than everybody else, so they try to do too much and end up making more mistakes. Wellllllll ... those nine minutes were a pretty much perfect example of that. Everybody tried to do too much, from the freshmen to the upperclassmen. That's somewhat understandable, but ... NINE MINUTES. It took a full quarter of the game for Missouri to pull out of its tailspin. (And then Illinois ended up winning the next few minutes after that, too, but mostly because the Illini were making plays.)

  • That Missouri was able to make its own run in the second half was encouraging, certainly. From 16:00 to 9:00 left in the game, Mizzou went on a 15-0 run that redefined everything. But this was in so many ways a repeat of the Northwestern game. Resilience is obviously a great thing to have. The ability to not fall behind by 20 before rebounding is an even better ability. There aren't many teams worse than Illinois left on the schedule. Most of the remaining opponents won't let you go on many 15-0 runs. Illinois ranks 115th according to Pomeroy, and Mizzou has fallen behind by at least 15 against every top 115 team it has played. That's impossible to overcome more than about once or twice.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Wes Clark 18.6 0.55 34 Min, 21 Pts (8-16 FG, 4-6 3PT, 1-2 FT), 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 TO, 4 PF
Jakeenan Gant 16.8 0.94 18 Min, 8 Pts (4-5 FG), 6 Reb (2 Off), 2 Blk, 1 PF
Russell Woods 12.8 0.54 24 Min, 7 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 FT), 10 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF
Kevin Puryear 10.1 0.53 19 Min, 12 Pts (5-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-3 FT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 TO, 2 PF
K.J. Walton 6.6 0.51 13 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 2 PF
Ryan Rosburg 2.6 0.17 15 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG), 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF
Terrence Phillips 1.0 0.04 29 Min, 5 Pts (2-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 0-2 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF
Cullen VanLeer -2.3 -0.11 20 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 PF
Namon Wright -2.4 -0.14 17 Min, 2 Pts (0-4 FG, 0-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb, 1 TO, 2 PF
Tramaine Isabell -3.8 -0.35 11 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 1 Reb, 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Wes Clark 33% 40% 4.1 50% 34% 5% 11%
Jakeenan Gant 14% 78% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Russell Woods 17% 42% 1.9 38% 33% 16% 13%
Kevin Puryear 31% 44% 2.1 0% 58% 27% 15%
K.J. Walton 23% 42% 1.7 0% 54% 33% 13%
Ryan Rosburg 14% 30% 1.9 60% 30% 0% 10%
Terrence Phillips 19% 22% 2.5 49% 29% 10% 12%
Cullen VanLeer 5% 16% 1.2 75% 25% 0% 0%
Namon Wright 18% 15% 1.3 0% 54% 33% 13%
Tramaine Isabell 14% 0% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • This was the game we were waiting for from Wes Clark. As we've discussed a few times already, Wes has had a dreadful year from the floor, but we know from past samples that he's a better shooter than his percentages indicated. After this game, he's up to 32% on 2-pointers and 36% on 3-pointers. The former is still lagging behind, but going 4-for-6 on 3s put those percentages back in line.
  • Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods: 42 minutes, 15 points on 10 FG attempts, five offensive rebounds, 11 defensive rebounds, two blocks, a steal, an assist, and only two turnovers and three fouls. YES, PLEASE. MORE OF THAT, PLEASE.
  • Man oh man, is Namon Wright struggling. Against Arkansas State and NIU, he was 3-for-6 on 2-pointers and 5-for-10 on 3s. In the four games since: 2-for-15 on 2s and 1-for-9 on 3s. He's been getting to the line (15-for-21), and he's been a more positive presence on the defensive glass (18 defensive rebounds in those four games), but man, is that a slump. He's going to snap out of it ... and at this point, hopefully he waits until conference play. Mizzou can beat UAPB and Savannah State without him going, like, 10-for-12 from 3-point range.
  • He disappeared for stretches, but nice game from Kevin Puryear. He shouldn't be asked to carry this much of the scoring load this early, but he had a decent game against a decent opponent, and that's encouraging after the last couple of games.
  • Cullen VanLeer really tried to leave his mark in this rivalry with those two late 3-point attempts. But his legs just weren't underneath him.

Summary

Technically this was encouraging. Early in the second half, it looked like this was going to be a 30-point loss to a team outside of the top 100. Mizzou bounced back, played strong defense (mostly) down the stretch, rebounded better than it had all season, actually got some contributions from two of its taller players, and got to within a break or two of stealing the win.

I would be more encouraged if we hadn't seen some of the same things against Northwestern. Illinois is a pretty shaky opponent, and Mizzou managed to lose its ball-handling mind and fall behind by 20 before showing these positive things. This team completely loses its mind and confidence when things start going poorly, and while youth can certainly be an explainer for that ... things aren't going to get easier in January and February. Unless Wes Clark is ready to carry a heavy load for this team, these young guys are going to have to figure out how not to lose their mind for long stretches of time, and what we've seen against teams with a pulse is not encouraging. The first eight and last 16 minutes were encouraging. The middle of the game (especially that nine-minute stretch) was mortifying.

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AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor." Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession. For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range. For shooting guards and wings, 2-3. For an offensively limited center, 1.30. You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.